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Polish lawmakers greenlight judicial changes to help access EU funds

08.02.2023 21:45
Poland’s Sejm (lower house of parliament) has given its final approval to a key judicial reform bill that can help the country access billions in European Union funds withheld due to an ongoing dispute over the rule of law.
The lower house of Polands parliament in session on Wednesday, February 8, 2023.
The lower house of Poland's parliament in session on Wednesday, February 8, 2023.PAP/Marcin Obara

The draft legislation was voted through on Wednesday night, Polish state news agency PAP reported. 

MPs rejected all the amendments enacted by the Senate (upper house) last week, in a 233 to 207 vote with 12 abstentions. 

The planned judicial overhaul now heads to President Andrzej Duda for signing into law.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in December that his country’s dispute with the European Union over the rule of law must be resolved so that Poland could receive billions of euros from the bloc’s pandemic relief fund amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Morawiecki told reporters at the time: “The dispute with the European Commission must be resolved. Today, the real conflict is taking place to the east of Poland, while the [EU] funds from the National Recovery Plan mean more money for the Polish army.”

According to Poland's governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, the bill would change rules for disciplining judges and testing their independence, in line with the expectations of the European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-nation European Union of which Poland has been part since 2004.

Officials have told reporters that the legislation meets a key “milestone,” bringing Poland a step closer to receiving EUR 23.9 billion in grants and EUR 11.5 billion in loans from the EU’s pandemic relief fund under Poland's National Recovery Plan. 

The Polish president said in December that the country should receive pandemic relief funding from the EU, and that he would support measures designed to help make it possible, but added that "such proposals must comply with the Polish constitution.”


Source: PAP, money.pl, tvpparlament.pl